On jogging and life

I love jogging. I have been jogging since I was a teenager. It must be genetic because my grandfather from my dad’s side used to run every morning. I think he was fond of sports all his life. He played baseball and did some boxing when he was younger. My dad told me that when my grandfather was in his sixties, he had a heart attack. After he came home from the hospital, he was so scared that for some weeks, he wouldn’t move from a chair he had placed at a sunny spot in his bedroom. My dad had to have a serious talk with him to get him up from the chair and back to life. After that, he would wake up early every morning and walk to a park called Chapultepec in Mexico City, and run. Afterwards, we would walk back home. He lived until he was around 94.

I haven’t been as disciplined as my grandfather with my jogging during the last two or three years. Partly because I feel I get enough exercise by using my bike and walking as my main means of transportation. However, whenever I have time, I love to go for a run. It is something my husband and I enjoy doing together, so often, during holidays, we make ourselves a little routine. It is a nice way to do something together, and to explore new places. It is also important to stay more or less fit in the slow pace of holidays.

This summer, we’ve been incredibly lucky. Because of the pandemic, we didn’t dare to plan any trip, but we wanted to find a place to enjoy the Norwegian nature. When I shared this wish with a friend, she and her husband offered us to borrow their cabin. My husband and I like to go for hikes, but our youngest and oldest are not as keen as we are, so we have made an agreement with them, we go hiking every other day. On the remaining days, my husband and go jogging.

It’s been a long time since I last jogged, and the path we are running is quite hilly. We started running 3k and decided to add gradually during our stay. There is a long hill on the way out and a steep relatively long one on the way back. I have been playing with my mind when running up these hills, to see what helps me most when I feel like giving up.

I started pep-talking myself, ‘you can do it!’, ‘it will get easier throughout the weeks’, ‘the hill is almost over’. It helped to a certain degree, and I didn’t give up, but it still felt super heavy at some point. I then decided to focus on the benefits I get from running, ‘this his healthy for you’, ‘feel your legs getting stronger’, and the sorts. Still, too heavy and painful. Until I decided to rather focus on my breath and the unpleasant feeling. Not feed into the feeling, not judge the feeling, just feel it. Where do I feel it? How does it feel?

The truth is, nothing makes the hills less unpleasant. Some days, they feel easier, some days, the first one feels easier and halfway through the second I feel like crying, but I keep jogging, and most importantly, I keep breathing. It feels wonderful when we come to the top of the last hill, and I know that the last stretch to the cabin is smooth. I feel strong and powerful. I never regret going out for a run.

As usual, I can’t help but draw parallels with life. When life circumstances feel like a steep long uphill, what do I do? How do I talk to myself? How do I help myself get through the situation? Do I encourage myself and trust in my ability to get through it? Do I tend to overthink? If yes, how about just focusing on my breath to climb the hill?

We can’t always turn an unpleasant situation into a pleasant one no matter how much we try to change our outlook, but they usually have an end. There is no endless uphill. And even if it doesn’t feel like it when we’re struggling, we always come out of it a little bit stronger, a little bit wiser.

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